Saturday, January 31, 2015

Filtered sunshine is what I think the weather guy said today would have. I wonder what the difference is between partly cloudy and filtered sunshine. Perhaps it has to do with the height and consistency of the clouds. But then, I am probably the only viewer of his report that is wondering about such a thing.

I have lots of birds out here this morning. Cardinals, Robins, Starlings, a Mocking bird -- or is it Mocking Jay, I'm not sure. I need to look that one up. There are also Goldfinches and House finches, and a couple of Doves. They are, of course, joined by a couple of fat squirrels. I bought another 50#  bag of black oil sunflower seed yesterday. I haven't taken it to the shed yet. I left it in the car for weight because we were supposed to get from three to six inches of snow tonight and tomorrow. But now, the weather forecaster say all the snow is going to go much farther north and we will just have rain. So, I'll carry it out to the shed this morning when I refill the feeders.

Well, poop! I just noticed that the glass beaker on my rain gage is cracked beyond use. It was a really nice one too. With all of the mild weather we've had I didn't think about putting it away for the winter. What a dumb move on my part. I guess as Forrest Gump says, "I'm not a smart man, Jenny" .

I don't know of anything on our agenda today. I think it will just be a lazy Saturday which is fine by me. We are both on our second cup of coffee and kind of just lazing around. I have no doubt there are things around here that I should be doing.  However, sitting here, watching my birds, sipping my coffee and occasionally writing a sentence is about as industrious as I'd like to get. I'll go fill my feeders in a bit, then perhaps we will run out and check on Aunt Aleen. There is no real change on that front,, althought Karen said she had a really good conversation with her yesterday. That is a first in a week or so. Bless her heart.

God has brought us to the end of another week. It has been a week once again filled with joy, peace, and love. What more could we ask for? So I'll close today with prayers of gratitude for all of those who have been a part of my life this week, from Ms. Kate who is the love of my life all the way down to the cashier at Walmart; I have interacted with God's children. I pray that I may have been a proper representative of the kind of person Christ expects me to be, and that I have done something to make someone's day better this week. We never know when the slightest of our actions can affect a perfect stranger or change the outlook of their day. So smile today and let the light of the Lord shine through you.

Friday, January 30, 2015

"The simple act of bowing your head, and saying  'Dear God---'  is like loosening the valve stem on a tire. It just slowly deflates your problems."

I was working on a sermon on a totally different subject last night and that random thought popped into my head and I had to write it down. I'm not sure where it came from or to what situation it applies, but it seemed important at the moment, and I thought I would share it here this morning. I can think of a couple of people to whom it might apply. I have a friend and parishioner  who is going through much mental anguish and turmoil at work and is searching for God's guidance. And, --- our daughter Lisa and her husband Gary are jumping through the hundreds of loops and hoops it takes for him to start his own business of an auto repair business. Lisa and Gary are very well grounded in their faith and we have all been lifting them up in prayer for God's guidance. She has an MBA in finance and he is a fully qualified and certified mechanic. However, it is still a scairy proposition to jump out there on your own. Holding the hand of God is certainly the steadying factor.

And a very good Friday morning to you! Another week has come to an end and tomorrow is the last day of January which means that 2015 is already 1/12 th over. If the forecasters are correct, we will celebrate it with three to six inches of fresh snowfall come Sunday. With that being in the forecast, I need to make sure that I get all of the feeders filled up tomorrow for sure. I probably should pick up some snow melt too to put on the drive way. It makes it so much easier to clean off. The little John Deere and snow blade have been prepped and ready since Christmas. And yes, we need milk and bread; not because of the snow but because we are about out.  Looking out my windows this morning though, it is hard to imagine a snow or rain event. It is bright and beautiful out there; thank you very much Lord.

The Cardinals are glistening in the sunlight and the Robins are hopping all around the yard. The chimes are gently swaying and playing. God's peace is alive and thriving in my back yard. What more could a fellow ask for? And so my thoughts naturally go to my blessings, which God so abundantly supplies.

I again offer my prayers of gratitude for the wealth of love that surrounds me. I am so very fortunate and I try to never forget that. I also offer up prayers for physical and mental comfort for those who I know are struggling with health issues and those who are facing tough decisions in their life right now. I lift up this nation and other nations in this world and pray for moments, and minutes, and days of total peace. And I pray that in the stillness of that peace, we might all hear the blessed voice of God calming of personal and collective fears. And finally, I pray for you and hope you have a most blessed day.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

I have already watched the sky turn from a bright sunny day to a cloudy and gloomy day. The temperature has dropped by four degrees since I first stepped outside this morning. I just came in from doing my trash can duties and cutting the dead tops off of the asparagus and putting Epsom Salt on that bed. I don't know why we put the epsom salt on it except that Ms. Kate says it needs to be done, --- so I do it. But the wind has picked up and is for sure carrying in some less than pleasant weather. Its a great thing to be staying home today.

It has been a bit of a different kind of morning. We stayed up late last night watching a couple of shows that Ms. Kate had put on the DVR. We finally crawled under the covers around 1:45 this morning. I was up by 7:15, had the coffee made and was in the sunporch by 7:30. I read my devotional and had a talk with the Lord, watched my birds and squirrels --- and dozed off in my recliner for a bit. Karen called around 9:00 and broke me out of a perfectly good dream, but it was time to be awake anyway. Ms. Kate was at her computer having her coffee and reading her Facebook stuff. So, it is that kind of a lazy morning.

This afternoon and evening will be dedicated to writing. I am lucky that the churches allow me to work out of my home. I have no set hours other than to conduct worship services, attend choir practice, and attend meetings as they might come up either with the association or the churches, or the occasional counselling session and parishioner visits. Were I to be at the churches, either of them, for a "normal office hours" type of situation, it would indeed be a lonely job because no one would be there. We have no administrative help. We have no internet capability at either church. Heck, one church doesn't even have a phone and no computers. So, it would just be me, sitting there unable to do any research or writing. As it is, our foks know that I'm as close as a phone and almost always available, 24/7. It works well for all of us.

I have my first Mocking Bird that I have seen in quite a while nibbling on the suet feeders this morning. The Cardinals are coming in and out to eat. Some of them are exceptionally bright and when the sun shinesvon tthem they become almost a brillant red. It makes for a really pretty sight since almost everything else outside is brown or at least dark during the winter. So I consider the Cardinals my daily reminder that God is fully alive even in winter when all else is sleeping. God never sleeps.

I'm lifting up my brother in law this morning. He's had a few days under the weather. So many people are sick right now with flu-like symptoms and colds and stomach viruses. Our youngest baby in the church is going through some of this so I'm lfting up all of them to the Lord for a dose of comfort and healing.

My computer downstairs is waiting for my fingers to get busy; so I better do just that. I hope you have a wonderful, Holy Spirit filled day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bright, blue, and brisk would be the way to describe this morning. It is 30° out and the wind chimes have not stopped their song. The Doves sit still in the sun all puffed up to keep in the warmth. The surrounding firebushes are full of Cardinals again this morning and the warm water in the bird bath has had several visitors. The last days of January are upon us.

I see a lot of empty feeders out there this morning which tells me the squirrels and the "flying pigs", as I often call my birds, have been busy yesterday afternoon. I guess I will put on my coat and gloves after I finish my blog and coffee, and go out and refill everything. This is an every other day task it seems. I also need to pick up another 50# bag of black oil sunflower seed as my can is half empty. Or perhaps I should wait and use all of this up so it doesn't dry out. After all, we wouldn't want the birds to have to eat "stale" seeds.

My heart overflows with joy this morning for our middle daughter, Heather, who announced her engagement to the family last evening as we "family chatted" through the Facebook messaging system. Her new fiance' is John Watson, and we all have met him and think he is a great guy. The entire family is excited for her. So we end up uber-prayers of gratitude this morning and pray they will have a life-time of love and happiness.

Today will be a rather busy day I reckon. Besides filling bird feeders, today is the day we go to the churches and do the administrative stuff that we do every week. Then we will stay for choir practice. Hopefully we will have a good turn out for choir since we are beginning work on the cantata. Interestingly enough, I learned last evening that many of the churches in our denomination do not do cantatas for special days like Easter and Christmas. I was surprised by that. I guess I assumed that if you had a choir, they would do a cantata. I really must be a die-hard traditionalist! Having now discovered this makes me even more grateful for our faithful dozen plus that work so hard at St. Lucas. We don't have a choir at St. Paul's and I try to encourage some of them to join in with the choir at St. Lucas, but my success has been extremely minimal.

I give my prayers of gratitude this morning that the blizzard of the northeast part of the country was not as bad as was expected and our family members up there are all safe and sound and kept the power and lights through the storm. They will have to do some digging out but that comes with the location. I also offer prayers for healing this morning for several of our parish members that have colds and flu like symptoms. One of our fellows was supposed to have knee replacement surgery yesterday and couldn't because he came down with a cold.

It is a beautiful day out there. It is a day that reflects the power and the glory of God. I urge each and every one of you to take a few minutes to reflect and be grateful for the peace that God can give you. My prayers this morning also go for a parishioner who is having difficulties on the job and is facing some hard decisions. God will guide him to the right path if he only will let go of his anxiety and fears of failure. The old adage; " If God leads you to it, God will lead you through it" certainly applies in this case, and is something that applies to all of us. Have a blessed day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

It is well after noon as I sit here. My tummy is full from a delicious lunch time meal featuring pork steak, spinach, boiled taters, and cooked carrots. Sounds almost too healthy to eat but it was great.

The morning has been busy. I had to go out first thing this morning and take care of some of my mother's financial business. She is 97 years old and claims to not be able to see or hear. But; --- she can tell you what so and so is wearing and who they are talking to from clear across the dining room. I suspect her seeing and hearing and ability to get around and do for herself just might fairly selective. But then, if I reach 97 years of age, I might be the same way.

As I looked out the window first thing this morning, the ground was covered with that white stuff. I won't tell you what it was because that is a "four-letter-word". By now it is all gone which is a good thing. Our loved ones in Massachussettes are getting pounded even as I set here and write this. They have posted early pictures on Facebook of the first foot of snow they got and they are only about half way through with it. I pray they will remain safe and that they don't lose power.

I was supposed to go to the hospital today to say a prayer with a fellow that was to have knee replacement surgery. However, he came down with a cold and they won't do the surgery while he has it. I still have to go out for a meeting yet this afternoon late.

So, that's it for today. I hope the rest of your day is filled with love and blessings.

Monday, January 26, 2015

It is a cloudy, brrrrr-filled morning out there. The birds and the squirrels are all fluffed up making themselves twice their normal size in order to stay warm. It is amazing how much difference it makes with no sun shining through. It is 32° out but if it was a bright day instead of cloudy, it would seem so much warmer. It's just a mind over matter thing but it is just one of the ways we delude ourselves as we walk through life.

The squirrels are busy this morning. They are spending more time and energy keeping each other from eating than they are getting themselves something to eat. There are three out there right now. One starts up a feeder pole and another runs over and chases it off. Then the third one comes and runs the second one off. It is quite the enjoyable circus this morning.

Several Cardinals, Junkos, Finches, Woodpeckers, and Mr. Fuss-a-lot, the BlueJay are all here this morning. I see my suet feeders are all empty. Ms. Kate had made up a batch of suet for them and they have finally finished all of that up. I have a couple of store bought suet cakes left so I guess I'll put those out today. Right now though, there are so many birds out there that it is impossible to keep up with them and they are almost all eating off of the ground rather than the feeders. It looks like the earth is moving. I'm glad to see them cleaning up some of their mess.

We had a good weekend. Yesterday was a cold and rainy day though and I think people decided to stay out of it and miss church. Both services were a little slim. There are so many people with cold and flu-like symptoms that it is just as well they didn't get out in this mess.

There are several things on the agenda for today such a doing laundry, going out to visit with my mother and Kate's aunt. I also need to spend some time writing and Ms. Kate is working on making her greeting cards etc..  It is all "just stuff", but it keeps us busy.

My prayers go out this morning for my family and all families on the east coast as they brace themselves for a possible record winter storm and blizzard. Our grandson, Josh and his family live up there and all of my son-in-law Jim's family live there. So, I pray for their safety and well-being. My prayers also go up for our daughter Lisa and husband Gary as they are working their way through and to a possible new and exciting chapter in their lives. More about that if and when plans come to fruition. In the meantime, I just pray that God helps them with their decisions. As Lisa said last evening, "we're excited about this but we just pray it is God -- not gas that is exciting us." She's so cute!

Have a great day.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It is a beautiful Saturday morning, made even more beautiful with two running facebook chats with Julie   and with Lisa. What a great start to the day. My "other" start to the day was to refill the electric birdbath because a squirrel dumped it over trying to get on it. There isn't much that a squirrel can't either tear up, break, or get into. It reminds me of a terrible thing that we used to say about our young airmen; that you could put four airmen in an empty room with nothing but a steel ball-bearing on the floor and when you opened the door the ball-bearing would be broke into four pieces and no one would have a clue how it happened.

Our Thursday/Friday date went wonderful. We checked in to our hotel room and then we had supper at Max and Erma's and then went to play on the casino boat for a bit. We didn't win anything of course, but lost only what was acceptable to us and probably played enough to earn us another "free room" next month. After the breakfast buffet, we went to our local Cadillac dealer and had the car cleaned up. We get free car washes for life as part of the purchase deal. "Free" of course being a rather relative term considering what we paid for the new car. But, it was a nice evening and morning and we came home after being gone for actually only about eighteen hours but we felt as though we had a mini-vacation.

Today we are just lounging around, still in our sweats, and relaxing. Days like this are a joy. I've watched birds come and go. I filled the feeders yesterday afternoon after we got home. The little Downy Woodpeckers seem the happiest about that because they come and eat the bark butter. So far today I haven't had a bunch of Starlings in here gobbling it all up. The Cardinals kind of come in and out in bunches although they don't "flock" like the starlings do. They just seem to individually arrive at the same time. The Titmouse duo has been several times and of course my little Wrens are always around here somewhere. I do love my Wrens.

There is a gentle breeze blowing this morning. It is just enough to keep the chimes singing to me. It is very peaceful out here this morning, just the kind of morning that can lull a person to snooze here in the sun as it streams through the windows. It is also just the kind of peace that can help unclutter a person's mind to allow proper conversation with God. As I open that conversation, I must begin by giving thanks for such a gloriouus day and offering thanks for my life being filled with blessings; blessings such as three daughters that don't hesitate to sit and talk to their dad; blessings such as Ms. Kate who is off in another room probably making greeting cards to send out to friends and loved ones; and blessings such a wonderful faith family and a host of friends and loved ones. God is so very good, all the time.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Its a cloudy cool Thursday morning. Only a hint of sunshine is peeking through and I heard that it will get squeezed out fairly quickly today. But, what the heck. We have had a wonderfully blessed January week of sunshine and 50° temperatures. I got no complaints if it drops back to "normal" for awhile. Just keep the snow on the North Pole please. The polar bears need it and I don't.

Today Ms. Kate and I are taking a day for a "Date-day". We have a free room at the local casino and hotel, "The Tropicana", so we are going to take advantage of it and have "downtown" date, or would you call it a "night on the town". It might seem a bit silly to stay in a hotel that is only four miles from the house; but on the other hand, we firmly believe that couples need a bit of silly in their relationships and in their lives, and we always have had. Married couples should never stop courting and dating one another. And when life comes to an end; the list of "I'm glad we did" should be miles longer than the list of "I wish we had". This was brought home once again to me just this morning as I learned that an old friend lost his wife to cancer last evening. She has had stage three and four cancer for several years now and God blessed them with a few extra years together. But we never know what an hour from now will hold for our lives. My prayers are with him this morning, but I celebrate the love they had for each other.

On a brighter note, I had a woodpecker out on the bark butter feeder this morning that was "kicking butt". A bunch of starlings came in and tried to eat off of the same feeder and the woodpecker took them all on by pecking at their heads and wings until they gave up. The yard and feeders are full of cardinals again this morning. I also have lots of junkos and finches and sparrows. A half dozen doves walk around on the ground cleaning up after the other birds that throw seed on the ground. I guess I should go out and refill all of the feeders again this morning. The squirrels are rapidly depleting the supply that is out there. Even though we are taking off for the day, my critters still need to have a place to come and eat. I'm sure I'll receive thank you notes from them.

My coffee cup is empty and I reckon Ms. Kate's is too. Time for refills and getting on to other stuff. I got a hot date waiting!

Have a blessed an joyful day. Stop what you are doing and do something silly today. It will give you a shot of youthful vigor back in your bones.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

There should be a camel walking through my yard any minute yelling, "Hump-Day!" It is Wednesday after all. For the Monday through Friday work force the week is now about half over. I heard one time that if you buy a factory-made product, whether it be a refrigerator or a car, you want one that was made on Wednesday because that is the day of highest productivity. What you don't want is a product that was made on either Friday or Monday because the workers minds are either on starting the weekend or recovering from the weekend. Those two days are also the two days of highest absenteeism which means someone else is picking up their slack. I have no idea if any of that is true, but it does carry a good amount of logic.

God has presented us with yet another "un-January" like day. Blue skies and a high of 53° is the prediction. However, the weather guys say to enjoy it because rain and even snow are on the way and we do still have six weeks of winter to get through. My little John Deere still sits waiting at the front of the garage with the snow blade on.  So far, knock on wood, we haven't had to use it. We've only had about two and a half inches of snow this winter and two inches of that occured in November. I have to admit that I do love getting out there with the blade and moving snow around.

It looks like most of my smaller feeders are empty again this morning so I need to take care of that today. I had to clean out the bird bath again this morning and refill that. The starlings and the robins get there and they do leave a "bath tub ring" of feathers and poop. While it don't appear to bother any of the other birds, it bothers me to think of coming in behind them for a drink. Gross!

I got most of my February 1st sermon done yesterday and a good start on the February newsletter. Today I need to go to the churches and take care of the administrative stuff and we have choir practice tonight. Last night I watched a movie called "God's not Dead". It is a good movie and I was evaluating it for use as part of the Ash Wednesday service. But, it really is too long for a worship service and too long to be watching it while sitting on church pews. Perhaps we can do a movie night some time during Lent and have a discussion adterwards. But, I guess I'll have to come up with something else for Ash Wednesday.

God is good, all the time and all the time, God is good. That is the thought that I will carry with me today as I work my way through this wonderful day. I hope you will feel the same and will take time to appreciate the goodness that is in your life. Even if your day seems to really suck, and you may be having some sort of fear or crisis in your life, God is there to hold your hand and the Holy Spirit will walk with you every step of the way. We are never alone. To me, that is the most comforting thought in the world. Have a blessed day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

There are lots and lots of birds out there this morning. Initially I had them confused I think. I put up a new bird feeder pole and I changed the location of several of the feeders. I had bought the new feeder pole for the sole purpose of hanging the two large sets of chimes on them. However, the chimes are heavy and with the ground thawing, the pole didn't stay up long. I'll need to get some "Quick-crete" today and put it in properly. In the mean time, I actually found a better arrangement for the chimes, and all it took was a re-arrangement of some of the feeders in the Pussywillow tree. I don't know why I hadn't figured it out before. Only the squirrel seems unhappy because there are now chimes where there were easy to reach feeders. Old squirrel don't care anything about music!

Byron got his PSA results back and they weren't the happy news that he had been getting. His numbers rose slightly ( 5 points ), but that could be accounted for by any variety of things. We'll just keep prayers going up for him and pray he is on a leveling field. Regardless of what happens down the road, we'll keep in mind that God has provided him and all of us with four wonderful extra months of blessings especially over the Christmas holidays. I believe that opening a fresh life gift every day is a most wonderful thing to enjoy.

It is another beautiful day here, although not so in other parts of the country. The upper part of the country is getting slammed with cold and icy conditions. Several people have been killed due to traffic accidents and large traffic pile-ups on ice covered road. My prayers go out for their families.

We have a few errands to run today and I need to do sermon work while Ms. Kate goes to sit with Aunt Aleen for a bit. Aleen has her bad days and her less bad days. Being in hospice care is different than regular care in that it is palative care only. Their program is to designed to keep her comfortable as opposed to "make her well". If she gets better as a result of being comfortable; --- that would be an added blessing. None of us, including her doctor expect that to happen. So, we ask God for a really healthy dose of patience and understanding all around. Far too often family members get worn out and then they start saying things like "I don't understand why she or he can't just die!" Then the guilty feelings and depression sets in. So, we remind ourselves that only God knows the span of our life and only God controlls that. In the meantime we need to give thanks for having our loved one in our life and remember that God is always good.

Take time today to count your blessings.

Monday, January 19, 2015

It is a bright and shiney Monday morning. It is 36°, not a cloud in the sky, and going up to 53° today. I'd say that makes for a fine morning.

It is also a national holiday, Martin Luther King day. I normally don't pay a lot of attention to MLK day but in recent years it has been a favorite. Eight years ago Ms. Kate had a stroke and lost much of her cognitive function. She couldn't recognize words, letters, numbers, or even fully remember her name or ours. There was a calendar on the wall of her hospital cubicle and the nurses would ask her what day it was; and she couldn't read the calendar because she had no recollection of numbers or letters. However, she had heard on the television that it was MLK day and for what ever reason, that information stuck with her. When I called her first thing in the morning, the first thing she told me was; "Its Martin Luther King day!" She was so excited and proud of herself for remembering that. She still didn't know the date or day of the week, but she did remember that single fact; and it was the beginning of her recovery progress. Yep, MLK day will always have a fond place in my heart. God works in some strange ways. God is so good, all the time.

We need to do some running around today and pick up a few things. We need a couple of boxes of paper from "Sam's". I'm down to one ream and we are on our last ream at St. Pauls. I do go through a lot of paper and ink. I bring home the unused bulletins from church and use that for my drafts and Kate uses that a lot too, and we share it with other family members too. We might as well, it would just be recycled otherwise, and it does save a little money this way. I've tried to get several of the parishioner that have young children to take it home for their kids to draw on etc but I don't get many takers. Maybe I'm too "old school" and parents don't give their children crayolas and paper these days. They give them electronic gadgets instead. So, they are trading bigger imaginations out for bigger thumbs. I'm sure that teachers would be glad to have it but then they would be in violation of bringing "religious stuff" into the classroom. What a world and society we have created.

So, today Byron has his oncologist appointment and we get to find out if his numbers are still as good as we want them to be. We are certainly holding our breath and saying prayers. I found out yesteday afternoon that the husband of one of my parishioners has been diagnosed with bone cancer. He had previously had prostrate cancer and it had gone into remission. So, I'm lifting up Rocky this morning in addition to all of our other friends and family that are on the prayer lists.

It is a great day to stop and look around at the world God has given us and take stock of my blessings. It is a great day to remind ourselves that God has the only plan that counts. Be satisfied with God's plan because God knows what is right for each of our lives and God works our individual miracles into our life. Have a great day.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

It is a beautiful Saturday morning; thank you Lord for two beautiful days in a row. It will be a good day to do our running around errands. We took advantage of the sunshine yesterday and drove to the Louisville area to see Julie. Ms. Kate had some clothes from Aunt Aleen's closet that she thought might fit Julie, so we did a 240 mile round trip to deliver a few clothes and of course, give our youngin' a hugging. You can't beat that for fun. We just wish the other two lived that close.

We have the laundry going first thing this morning so we can get that chore out of the way. I didn't get to the pet food stores yesterday so I have that to do. I also need to refill all the feeders today. Ms. Kate will go out and visit with Aleen for awhile today. There is no improvement on that front and she went under hospice care as of Thursday. Their mission is keep her comfortable which is all we can hope for. We pray she will mot have to live in this condition for very long. But, God controls that and only God knows the full extent of her condition.

The squirrels are rapidly finishing off the feeders this morning. However, there is one less varment out there than there was earlier. A realky large hawk came in and watched the squirrels for awhile. Then it selected the smallest of the group, swooped down and clutched it, and off it went. I've seen a hawk actually grab one of the squirrels. I had them come in and grab small birds and voles, but this guy must have been hungry. And, --- as nature would have it; the rest of the squirrels didn't hardly miss a bite. They are still out there chomping away on sunflower seeds.

Time for me to get on out in this beautiful day and take in some natural Vitamin C from the sunshine. I thank God for this day, for all of my backyard friends, and for my lvely Ms. Kate. Life is good; --- unless you happen to be the smallest squirrel playing in front of a very hungry hawk! Have a blessed day.

Friday, January 16, 2015

It is a brilliant blue, bright and sunny morning that greets me this morning. It is 30° too which is also a blessing. The world was covered with a thin frost layer when I first came out here to the sunporch, but as the sun rises, it appears to melt rather quickly. All in all I would say it is a "heavenly" start to the day. Thank you God. Days like this are spirit mending days after weeks of cloudy and gloomy and bitter cold.

Many of my feeders are empty again. I need to go get at least one 50# bag of sunflower seed since the can is half empty. I have a flock of starlings that have arrived and they are as bad, if not worse, than the squirrels; of which I also have four of at the moment gobbling up the food. But, the starlings fight and fuss with one another; they clean out suet feeders and bark butter feeders in a heartbeat. At one point this morning, I had four starlings fighting over a single 4"X4" suet feeder. It is now half gone. The good thought is that these guys come in every year like this and then they tend to move on. The squirrels on the other hand are just resident free-loaders that never go away.

The neighborhood is noisy this morning. It is trash pick up day so those trucks are coming through, picking up the cans with their "robo-arms" and shakng out all the contents. Somewhere down the street I hear a wood chipper going already this morning so somebody is having trees trimmed or cut down today. I see Ms. Margret from the house behind us is out picking up some twigs as she walks her little Miniature Pincher. She is probably ten years older than me and has a sour disposition about most things. But, she has been widowed as long as I have known her and lives alone with the exception of her little dog. Her last dog died, maybe six years ago, and it broke her heart. So a fellow across the street from her had a new litter of these "mini-pins" and gave her one. I call her Ms. Margret when I see her and she calls me Mr. Heumann; and I don't think she has ever said a word to my wife in the fourteen years we have lived here. Isn't that strange?

The question today is; what to do today? It is my "day off" and is a beautiful day. We need to take advantage of it. I guess I'll go pour another cup of coffee and see if Ms. Kate has an agenda for today. It is really too cold to do much outside because the ground is frozen solid. I did get all of my limbs and branches picked up yesterday and put in the garbage cans for today's haul away.

So, another week has pretty much ended. God has filled my life with abundance of blessings and joy. I hope your week has been as good. Have a blessed weekend.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Twenty-nine and cloudy this morning as I sit myself down in my sunporch chair. South of us in Kentucky they are having a bit of snow to start their day. Better them than us, I say. The cardinals, junkos, sparrows, gold finches, and starlings are all here for breakfast. Those silly starlings practically emptied my bird bath twice yesterday with their bathing. At one point there were four starlings and two sparrows in the water and all of them flapping and flipping their wings, splashing water everywhere. It was entertaining to watch. I need to add water to it again this morning.

Well, I made my list and checked it twice, but didn't find out who was naughty or nice. I got my visitation done yesterday, as well as my bulletins run and the church prepped for Sunday. Choir practice was a bust as only four of us showed up for what ever reason. It was cold and damp last evening so I guess folks just didn't want to come out. But, between us, we got a song picked out for the next time we sing and we got an Easter Cantata picked out. We sang this particular cantata two or three years ago and it went well. Easter is only about ninety days away which will go faster than we think it will.

I'm watching a squirrel just outside the porch window that is deterined to get sunflower seed out of this one specific cylinder feeder. I have that feeder dangling on a hook just far enough away from the branch to make it hard work for the squirrels to reach. The gyrations and stretching that that squirrel has to go through to get one seed at a time is phenominal; and yet, he does it. He has been literally hanging by the toe nails on his back feet and stretching horizonally over to the feeders to pull the feeder to him just enough to get a seed out. Then he let's go of the feeder and pulls himself back up on the branch to eat that seed, then the routine starts all over again. The body strength and muscle tone of these creatures is amazing. It's worth putting the feeders out there just to watch that. But then, consider what an ant can carry for long distances. God sure does amazing work.

My prayers go out as prayers of gratitude this morning. As I sit here with my lap-robe across my legs, a warm cup of coffee sitting by my side, and Ms. Kate sleeping peacefully in the next room, I can't help but be grateful to God for the life I am living. There is peace all around me, (despite the crackling of the starlings fussing at one another) and there is peace within my heart and soul. I know that the peace that I feel comes from the warmth of the love of God. This is the peace that I try to share with my parishioners through the ministry that God allows me to do. I know life can be hectic;--- our lives are hectic at times. But I have found that if I simply take the time to stop everything I am doing and open my mind to God's will; --- God's grace and love will simply pour over and through me. Take time today and experience the peace that God offers. Help yourself to a blessed day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My first visitors this morning are a rather large red -headed woodpecker and a host of cardinals. I think the cardinals are trying to beat the squirrels to the feeders although there are enough feeders out there for everyone. I do the same thing on Sunday mornings after church. We try to beat the Baptists to the restaurants so we don't have to wait in line too long. (Yes, I'm kidding. Its the Catholics we have to worry about. They are the ones with the crowds. LOL)

I'm sitting here looking over my back yard and I can see it really is a mess. The poplar trees have put a lot of seeds and seed pods on the ground and the wind has broken off a lot of little limbs from the trees. There is easily a weeks worth of work to be done out there. But at 23° --- who wants to do that? As soon as it gets another thirty degrees warmer and stays dry, I need to get my tail end out there. We've always had the "show" yard of the neighborhood. But each year it gets harder to maintain as I get older. I think this year I need to not be a "Lazy-Larry", and put a dedicated effort into it instead of the sporadic efforts of the past. Heck, it might even work off a little of this "winter belly".

I have a list of things to do today. Yesterday was a successful day of writing: thank you Lord. We are waiting around this morning for a fellow to come and work on my sliding glass door that brings me out here to the sunporch. It is heavy as the dickens and really has become almost impossible to slide open somtimes. I suspect it was installed when the house was built in 1977, so it may just be that the rollers on it are worn out. But, that's why you call guys that know about such things. It's an Andersen unit so I know it is good quality. But even good stuff wears out after thirty years or so.

After he has come and gone, I have visitation to do, admin stuff to do at the churches, and then choir practice this evening. That should be enough running around for today I think. Tomorrow will probably be another day or partial day of visitation with Aunt Aleen and my mother. There seems to always be something or some one we need to be taking care of. But, God put us on this earth with no expectation that we would simply set on our hands and ignore those who need our help. And, --- as fully as God has blessed my life; I have no right not to share my blessings, talents, and abilities.

My coffee cup is empty for the second time and the bird bath out there needs to be filled again. It stays in constant use by both the birds and the squirrels. I can see that it is almost a gallon low. My morning contemplation and meditation is done and it is time vacate the recliner. I hope you have a truly blessed day and if you do, --- I pray you will take time to thank God who provided it for you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Task number one this morning was to fill seventeen birdfeeders. I had held off until everything was gone from them either by the birds or the squirrels. I was barely finished before the cardinals started flying in. I had heard them cheeping in the trees above me. I swear though, that the squirrels can see a newly filled feeder from five hundred yards away. They come in like rats drawn to a garbage can. The thing about watching them though, is that their movements are so animated and quick; not to mention thay are arguably the greatest contortionists on the planet out side of a snake.

Task two then was to nuke my cup of coffee that Ms. Kate poured for me while I was taking my shower. Needless to say it got a bit cold while I was filling the feeders. But, it wouldn't have been very entertaining to sit here in the sunporch with none of my creatures out there because of empty feeders. So now, I have three squirrels and more birds than I can count out there enjoying their bounty.

I'm seeing a larger variety of birds today than I have in quite awhile. The titmouse duo is here, Mr. Fuss a lot, the blue jay, is here, the junkos are here, a mockingbird, and even a robin or two are here. People used to say that early robins were a sign of an early spring; but I think these guys are just lost. They must have taken a wrong turn at Dallas or something because there is no early spring coming, although we are supposed to get up to forty degrees some time this week.

I started workng on my sermon for Sunday after next, last evening, but I got totally distracted by the National College Championship football game. I very seldom watch college sports, or sports of any kind. I like to watch USC play football for absolutely no known reason. But last nights game was fun to watch and it was good to see the underdog team win. But, that also means that I need to get my self down to my office and get started on my writing again today. It is hard to believe that I'm already working on a sermon for the last Sunday in January.

Ms. Kate and Karen have a meeting with Hospice today regarding Aunt Aleen. So, I'm offering up prayers for all concerned. The situation and concern for her is following a very familiar pattern for the family. Initially there is overwhelming worry and concern, but after the first month, --- that turns into worn out and concerned which often leads to feelings of guilt for feeling worn out. Often family members silently tell themselves that it really would be okay if their loved one could just pass away so they wouldn't have to continue to lay there or sit there in misery. Then they feel even more guilty for thinking those thoughts. So, this then becomes the time when prayer becomes critical. God understands our hearts and God gives us the strength we need when we need it. If you are in a situation where you are going or have gone through this; know you are not alone. We've all been there; but --- God was always there too.

Have a blessed day.

Monday, January 12, 2015

I'm fairly certain it was Karen Carpenter, (who died entirely too soon by the way), that wrote the song "Rainy Days and Mondays". She said that rainy days and Mondays "always get me down". Well, it is Monday and it is a rainy day, at least to start with, but it won't get me down. As far as I'm concerned; it is just another peaceful morning here in the sunporch, listening to the song of some kind of bird singing from the next yard over, and watching these four squirrels go through their squirrel antics as they try to climb wet steel poles to get to my feeders. It has been a display of "squirrel yo-yo" as they climb up and slide back down.

We had a good weekend and church services were fairly well attended, as they should be. After-all, what else would one do with a Sunday morning; --- the Colts didn't play until late afternoon!

Speaking of which; --- the Colts & Broncos game yesterday was extremely exciting and well played. Next weekend we will be glued to our armchairs here at home while Julie & Jim are glued to their chairs in New Albany as our Colts play their Patriots. It would be fun to watch it together but we will have to settle for texting back and forth during the game. Unfortunately, our Colts don't have a very good record while playing on the road and they are playing on Patriot home turf. But--- even that squirrel out there manages to get up that slick pole once in a while, so who knows.

I think we will have a fairly benign week around here. I need to do my visitations this week assuming the nursing homes are allowing visitors due to people having the flu etc. Ms. Charlotte was sick with it last week and at 101 years old, that is not a good thing. I pray she gets over it. On the other hand, when I am there she has no clue who I am and doesn't talk to me. But, I'm told that there is always the possibility that on some conscious level there may be recognition, so I go and sit with her for a few moments and say a prayer for her. My only other nursing home parishioner is a real "Negative-Nancy". He doesn't have much of anything good to say about anyone or anything. But, he does always seem to enjoy visitors. It gives him a fresh face to complain to, so I can serve as that fresh face for him, and then we pray together.

My brother in law goes in for blood work this Friday and then back to the oncologist a week from today. So, we are going to hold our collective breath for a week and pray for continued good results. My prayers also go out for strength and healing for the mothers of two of my parishioners, one of whom just had a bowel resection and the other who has Lou Gerhrigs disease. May God's loving hands hold them both as they go through their health issues.  We have several people on our church prayer list these days and I lift each and every one of them up in prayer. And finally I lift up Aunt Aleen, and pray God gives her comfort and peace also. --- So much need --- and only one God to handle it all. And God does it so very well. How overwhelming is that thought? Have a blessed day.

Friday, January 9, 2015

It is 17° out there this morning and a really harsh wind is blowing giving us a windchill of 1° . My aviary friends are all puffed up to the max as is the lone squirrel. Every bird and squirrel have been to the bird bath numerous times. As a matter of fact, I had to add a half gallon of water to it this morning, and I had just filled it yesterday morning. I'm not sure if they actually drank that much or if there is more evaporation due the temperature of the water being 40° warmer than the ambient air temperature. I don't actually know if a thing like that occurs but it "sounds smart" to say it.

Yesterday may have been the most relaxing day I have had in years. I did nothing yesterday except relax, have coffee, nap, read from my Stephen King novel, listen to music, and play on my computer. It was a "jammie day" as Julie likes to call it, which means except to shower etc we didn't even get out of our pajamas. I had planned to get a haircut but decided that it was too cold to leave the house. So, if one isn't leaving the house and no one is coming in, --- why get dressed for an occasion that isn't going to happen. If you've never had a "Jammie Day", might I suggest you try it once. It will greatly help you mentally, physically, and spiritually. It gives your mind a chance to breathe. Today, we will get back to life's routines of visiting with Aleen and my mother, going grocery shopping, and yes, getting my hair cut.

I have reached the last third of my novel that I'm reading. That is the point at which Stephen King always draws me in. I find it hard to put the book down. I go to bed at night thinking of scenarios of what might be happening to my characters. With a King novel there is never a guarantee of a happy ending. In fact, more than one of his books have ended with main characters that you are rooting for, -- end up dieing, and sometimes horribly. I hate when he does that; especially if the character is a child as happened in "Cujo". So, now, I'll end up snatching time and maybe reading a few pages at a time. I literally ingest his books when I read them and so, I can put a book down and pick it back up, sometimes months later, and know exactly where I am in the story without character refreshment. It took me two years to get around to finishing "The Stand", but I never lost my place in the story.

It would appear that I need to go out and refill some of the smaller feeders. A couple of them look like they are empty. On the other hand, there is a wealth of seed on the ground below the feeders that they can clean up. All of the large feeders still have plenty of food in them so they are a long way from being in need.

God has provided a brilliant blue sky with a great deal of sunshine today. That will make it seem to be a little warmer anyway. And it will remind me that the warmth of God's love is always there, always surrounding us, always giving light to our souls. For that, I offer my prayers of gratitude this morning. I hope you will be having a very blessed day.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Good morning on this bitterly cold 3° morning. It is a bit overcast this morning which means that no heat from the sun is going to get through. I have lots of backyard company this morning. One of my first customers was a squirrel who ran straight from the tree and on to the bird bath. He sat there for awhile drinking and having his front paws in the warm water.

The feeders are indeed popular this morning. Mostly I have finches and cardinals  with a couple of starlings and a woodpecker or two thrown in for good measure. The bird bath was literally ringed with cardinals at one point this morning. I guess it is a good thing I filled it for them. It is cold enough out there that I can see steam rising from the water. The birds keep coming in and sitting on the edge. I suspect they are warming themselves a bit off of that steam.

I have three starlings out there this morning that are trying to eat from the bark butter feeders. The problem they have is that they aren't very adapt at "clinging" to a vertical surface which is what it takes to successfully eat from those feeders. So, they are expending enormous amounts of energy flapping their wing to stay aloft and peck some of the butter paste that is on those feeders. They remind me of a lot of people that I have known over the years; people who aren't really suited for the job they are trying to do and expend far too much energy and eventually just wear themselves out.

I think we are going to have a relatively quiet day around here today. With the exception of a couple of end tables, we are done moving furniture around. The new curio cabinet was delivered yesterday morning and Ms. Kate has all of her beautiful glassware washed and put away. We did visitation yesterday with Aunt Aleen and my mother. The bulletins have been run and the churches are ready for Sunday services. I think the only thing on my agenda is to (brrrr) go get a haircut and pick up some flourescent bulbs for ceiling lights in my office downstairs. I may just take some time and read a little of the Stephen King novel that I'm currently working on.

As I look around the yard this morning I must of course give thanks for yet another day of living and for the peace that surrounds me. I look at all of my birds that are out there and if I have done nothing this morning except help take care of some of God's creatures, then I have started my day out right. I don't think that God expects grandious gestures from us nearly as much as God expects us to care for one another and to care for his creation. I pray your day will be filled with at least as much joy as I have alreay experienced this morning. Have a great day.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Corinthian Chimes sing a continuous mellow song this morning in a brisk cold wind. It is currently 12° out there with a nine mile per hour wind which gives us a -11° wind chill. The birds are flocking to the feeders this morning to gobble up some energy. The electric bird bath is also a popular place as it is the only source of unfrozen water around. I need to refill it this morning. Even a squirrel was up on it for a few minutes a little bit ago. There is a skiff of fluffy snow on the roof tops and sidewalks this morning too. Winter is in full force this week and it is about time it arrived. One hundred miles north of us winter is wreaking havoc, so I will give God thanks that this is the worst we have.

The squirrels are having their issues this morning. The metal poles that are holding the bird feeders and the slick surfaces of the feeders themselves must feel extremely uncomfortable to their paws. They are having a hard time climbing the poles and finding footing on the bird feeders. Ah well, it sucks to be a squirrel this morning.

I have lots of cardinals this morning. They and all of the birds are puffed up and look twice their actual size. I've also had several woodpeckers this morning. I filled all of the feeders yesterday in anticipation of this frigid weather. It is supposed to last the remainder of the week.

Unfortunately, we need to get out in this cold and wind today. I need to go to the churches and take care of business and Ms. Kate needs to go out and sit with her aunt Aleen for a while today. Her aunt looks forward to Kathy's visits because Kathy will comb her hair, wash her face, and put lotion on her hands and arms. Other people do the same things too but Aleen always says, "My sweet Kathy; she washes my face." So of course, Ms. Kate feels guilty if she misses a day.

When my grandson Matthew was up here Saturday, he was looking at our backyard and made comment as to how bare it all looks in the winter. He's absolutely right. Nothing is growing or in bloom. The ground is a winter brown, there are no leaves on the trees with the exception of the holly trees and the pines. But, I also know that within about eight weeks, we will start to see the daffodils and hyacinths start popping their heads through the ground. I can also already realize that I have a lot of raking and yard clean up to do. I must remind myself to do that on the next 50° non rainy day. In the meantime, I will just enjoy what God sends us and count my blessings that I am alive to enjoy it all. Stop whatever you are doing today and sit quietly for five minutes and give thanks for your blessings. Five minutes of doing nothing but being alone with God. Regardless of how the rest of your day goes, it will be the best five minutes of your day and will improve your whole spirit.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It has been all too easy for me to fall into a habit that I don't like. I have let myself become "too busy" to sit and write my blog in the mornings far too often. And, while that act of writing might not be crucial to anyone's life, --- it does carry with it a bigger price. It means that I also am letting myself become too busy to stop and connect with God. Considering all of the things that God has done for me and considering all of the blessings God continually heaps on me; I should never neglect a day of stopping all of the minutia of a daily schedule and sitting down in meditation and gratitude. And so, my first prayer of the day is a prayer of asking God for forgiveness.

It has been a busy and hectic time around this house since well before Christmas. As you may recall, we did a renovation of the family room a month ago. That required moving furniture out of the family room and into what ever space we could fit it. Well, we got the renovation done and moved stuff back into the family room, but then we had to move stuff around to put up the Christmas tree. In the meantime, Ms. Kate's aunt Aleen suffered two strokes. So there have been daily or every other day trips to sit with her. Added into this we did extra church services, and wonderful four day visit with my sister and brother in law, and a four day visit with Julie and Jim. Then last week, we began the process of emptying out Aleen's apartment which included bringing much of her stuff to our home. So, we called youngest daughter, Lisa, and offered them our current dining room set so we could downsize to Aleen's set. So, -- they made a quick 750 mile trip up here from North Carolina, loaded up their enclosed trailer, spent the night here and took off the next day in a downpour and, praise the Lord, safely made the 750 mile trip back home. Ms. Kate, in addition to visiting with Aleen, has been busy washing and trying to find a place for all of her beautiful glassware and china, now that we have changed out furniture. Yesterday included a shopping trip to purchase a new curio cabinet. Which only proves that we don't downsize, we redistribute and re-purchase.

I think the saddest part of all of this is that we missed Christmas. Oh, we "did Christmas" for sure. I got the tree up, Ms. Kate put a minimal amount of decorations on it. We had Christmas company and we exchanged gifts with one another. We had extra Christmas Eve services and we said all the right things and sang the approprate songs; but that is just "doing Christmas". We squeezed in the birth of the Savior of our very soul, ---somewhere between doing moving furniture and doing other human stuff. Jesus Christ and the glory of God should never be allowed to become an after thought. And so, while I'm not one for New Year's "resolutions"; it is certainly my resolve to never get that busy again. God deserves better from me.

I pray you have an uncluttered and blessed day.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Rain, rain, rain. It is indeed a very rainy morning around here and it is 46°. There are a couple of squirrels out there and they look miserable and wet. But then, --- I doubt they have a concept of miserable and wet. I'm positive that if I were out in like they are, I would be looking for shelter.

Youngest daughter, Lisa, and her family left about an hour ago to head back to North Carolina. I really hope they drive out of this rain fairly soon. Gary is driving the truck and pulling the trailor with the dining room set in it. Grandson Matthew is driving Lisa's car following along behind. He is only 16 years old and I don't know how much driving experience he has, especially in the rain. So our prayers are certainly for them to have a safe trip. And --- while it won't help anything at all, we worry about them until they get safely home tomorrow. It was wonderful to see the kids even if it was only for less than twenty four hours. I really wish that Lisa and Heather lived as close as Julie does. But that isn't the way it is, so we treasure every moment we get to be with any of them. God has blessed us as a family that loves one another and actually likes to be together, so I will just be grateful for the blessings as they flow and not whine for more.

The kids got in around noon yesterday and we went right to work to get things loaded in their trailor. We knew rain was coming in at some point so we busted our humps to get it all loaded. Neighbor Dan was a super help, as he came over and helped carry a bunch of the stuff with us. It is really great to have a neighbor like him. He and I swap help a lot. But mostly we're like a couple of gossips as we stand in the yard solving all of the world's problems drinking our coffee. We have no doubt that the world would run a lot better if we were in charge.

Ms. Kate is busy trying to get all of the stuff she took out of a large china cabinette back into a much smaller one. Its pretty much like putting fifty pounds of potatos into a ten pound bag. She has so very many family heirloom glass pieces and beautiful crystal pieces. But, she isn't going to be able to display them like she was able to. I reckon we will just have to see how all of this is going to work out.

Besides asking for safe travel this morning for my family, I also lift up my prayers for Aunt Aleen, Kathy's aunt who had the strokes. Two days ago, we were out there and she was sure she was going to die before morning. She and Kathy talked about it and she and I prayed together about it. But God has obviously chosen not to take her home just yet. I'm sure she is disappointed, and frankly, we are sad for her. But God controls our lives and we should be grateful for each breath. So, I pray that she can find peace within her body and her soul, and trust that God will be with her through the pain and suffering. After all, God is good, all the time. Have a blessed day.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Good morning 2015! Its great to see you. I'm up and ready to face whatever challenges and or blessings will come my way in this brand new year.

It is certainly a cold start to the new year. It is 26° and mostly sunny this morning with a good layer of frost on most everything. There is a slight wind and the sound of my new Corinthian chimes is beautiful and deep. We have three sets of chimes out there ranging from tiny high pitched to the Corinthians. I really need to get a better pole for the two larger sets and I need to concrete it in. The standard iron poles that they sell at bird feed stores are really too flimsy. There is a place in town that does iron work that I'll bet has what I want. And, if they don't have it, I bet they can make it.

December has come and gone. All of the Christmas decorations around our home have been put back in storage. We had to make room again for furniture in the living room. Our youngest daughter, Lisa, and her family are making a turn around trip to our house. Ms. Kate and I are getting a dining room set from her aunt so we are giving our set to Lisa and her family. Ours is a massive, Philippine mahogany set and is just getting too heavy for us to use any more and she said years ago that she wanted it. The biggest prolem is that Ms. Kate has a wealth of beautiful glass ware and dishes that I'm not sure where she will store now. The set that we are getting is a lot smaller than what we are using. Any way, Lisa and family are leaving North Carolina this morning and will be here tomorrow around noon. They will pack up all of this set and then they will head home on Saturday morning. That is not enough time for hugging and kissing family that we see once or twice a year. But we'll cherish what we get and call it first blessings of 2015.

As I look out, I see that several of my feeders are empty this morning. I guess I need to get myself properly dressed and fill things up again this morning. That's going to be a cold job.

My prayers this morning are varied and long. God gave me a wonderful 2014 and here I am, asking for more of the same in 2015. I pray my brother-in-law's PSA numbers continue to drop. I pray that Kathy's aunt will receive whatever comfort God can give her and that she not be forced to live a long life paralyzed and unable to function on her own. There are things in this life that are far worse than death. I pray for the spiritual health of my two congregations and that God will help me daily in my leadership of them. I pray for my wonderful Ms. Kate and my wonderful family. I am so very blessed. I pray that Julie will have a good year with her RA and that the pain she deals with on a daily basis become tolerable.

Yes, I am certainly loading up God's plate on this first day of 2015. But I always have faith that God will do and provide whatever is best. Happy New Year.